The Rickey, nation's capital official drink

A chilled Rickey.
WASHINGTON, DC -- While Congress and the White House continue their maddening lack of achievement when it comes to the nation's financial situation, politicians in the city that hosts them have come to agreement.

The District of Columbia City Council has unanimously proclaimed The Rickey the city's official drink.

The Rickey is anything but a newcomer to the cocktail scene. Popular lore has it that it was created in 1883 by one Colonel Joe Rickey who had a bartender at Shoomaker's bar add a lime to his daily dose of bourbon with lump ice and Apollinaris sparkling mineral water. It originally was called the Joe Rickey.

That's one version, anyway. Rickey, a popular gambler, Democratic lobbyist from Missouri and man about town, was quoted by a newspaper in 1900 as saying he never actually drank Rickeys. Oh, well.

By the 1890s, a gin version of the drink surpassed the original in popularity. The D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild celebrates July as "Rickey Month."

Shoomaker's was a well-known bar, opened in 1858 by Captain Robert Otto "Charley" Hertzog and Major William Shoomaker and located at 1331 E Street near the National Theater. Both German immigrants had served as officers in the Union Army in the Civil War, and had their names anglicized. After they died, Colonel Rickey, who had owned a piece of the business, bought full ownership in 1883.

In 1914, the bar operation moved to 1311 E Street. The stretch of E street between the Willard Hotel and 13th street was known as "Rum Row." Shoomaker's closed in 1917 shortly after passage of the Sheppard Act that caused the District to go dry prior to Prohibition.

A classic Rickey recipe:
  • 2 ounces gin
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Club soda
  • Lime wedge for garnish
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour the gin and lime juice over the ice.Top with club soda, Garish with lime and serve.

Obviously, the choice of gin brand is yours. And, adding a splash of other flavors such as fruit juices and liqueurs can make variations on a theme.

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